Creative Aging at Home and Abroad

When I was doing fieldwork this summer, my informants would often mention San Miguel’s creative community as one of the primary reasons why they decided to pack up and head south. Throughout my time there, I asked retirees why they hadn’t settled someplace in the U.S., and the answer was always the same: there is no where in the U.S. like San Miguel.

Perhaps that is changing. The New York Times article linked here describes the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, an apartment community for the older creative set. Like the retirees who flock to San Miguel, The Burbank artists colony acknowledges the fact that not every retiree aspires to a golf-course/shuffle board experience. And unlike more conventional creative projects for seniors, this program aims to provide opportunities for elders to apply their creative talents with new projects, rather than as a life review. The colony offers a variety of venues for artistic self-expression, including a digital film editing lab, a theater, drama classes, and art studios that are open 24 hours every day.

It appears that this colony is creating something akin to the lifestyle one has access to in San Miguel. The major difference: this is an apartment complex, and it appears to have no other outward focus other than artistic production. San Miguel’s seniors, in contrast, have ample creative expression through the arts and community theatre programs, but also substantial efforts are dedicated to giving back to the community through charity.

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